WFP-supported School Feeding as part of an Integrated Response
School feeding is part of that humanitarian assistance. It helps to improve literacy rates and to break the cycle of poverty. School feeding contributes to the development of the necessary human infrastructure needed to develop the country.
According to a study carried out by WFP in 2004, only 37% of displaced households stated that their child received food at school. School feeding provides a healthy meal (lunch), which reduces hunger during the child’s school day. It also provides an incentive for families to encourage regular school attendance for their children; that is to say, it reduces the opportunity cost of sending their children to school.
In this way, the program contributes to the overall improvement of school performance, reduces hunger in the short term, and provides ways to augment the consumption of micronutrients, which are necessary for healthy growth. Overall objectives are to increase school attendance and enrollment, and to reduce school dropout rates.
How many children are benefiting from the WFP School Feeding programs within the country?
The main WFP activity in Colombia is Assistance to Persons Displaced by Violence, which started in April 2008. With the attention provided by this program, we have assisted 192.532 children in school age, in 22 of the country’s 33 departments.
The children we assist in our School Feeding Programs are boys and girls whose families have been forced to abandon their homes due to violence, and other children in vulnerable conditions. They are provided with snacks and lunches served in appropriate school canteens, in 1,649 schools countrywide, with the support of a large network of implementing partners who make our work possible.
Likewise, some 175,275 children were assisted during 2007.
Discuss the effect meals have on the children in terms of school attendance, performance, and nutrition.
We have proven that our food assistance activities to the highly vulnerable internally displaced children at nutritional risk have various positive effects on their lives:
• Our School Feeding Program helps to improve literacy rates and to break the cycle of poverty. School Feeding also contributes to the development of the necessary human infrastructure needed for Colombia’s development.
• In the country, children of poor families have been found to often interrupt regular educational processes. The provision of school meals is an enormous incentive that fosters school attendance, and at the same time helps to avoid labor and sexual exploitation, street begging, and child recruitment by illegal armed groups.
• Improvement of sanitation facilities and simple good practices such as hand washing reduce the risk of spreading diseases among the children, and at the same time contributes to enhanced nutritional status. WFP aims to improve the quality of basic sanitation facilities as part of an integrated assistance package under the school feeding initiative.